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Part 2- Final Steps in Planning An Epic Road Trip

The final steps in bringing your plan together


Using the maps, determine an area for each of your reference points.

Take the total distance of your trip and divide it into 500-mile increments, which equates to about eight hours of driving time per stretch. Try to pick major cities for now, as this will give you a framework to work within. These will be the cities that you choose to sleep in each evening and will be called reference points. I’ll show you how and why you may want to tweak this as your plans progress.

Based on eight-hour driving stretches along your journey, these reference points can vary—for example, if you want to stay later in the day in the city where you spent the previous night instead of leaving by 2pm, that is fine, but you will still need to follow the Commandments and stop at your next layover by 6:30pm. This means the next base will be closer than 500 miles, which is a choice that may work best for you to be able to enjoy your experiences. You always want to feel like you have flexibility and choices at hand, but for the best roadtrip overall, do stay within the bounds of the Commandments.

Take your trip, break it down into 500-mile increments and choose reference points, then you can research the surrounding region of each reference point to either change the nightly destination or add stops between on the way to each one to enjoy the journey.

5. Possible Destination and Routes

Use an online map of America, for an interactive one, simply open! For all types of trips—if it’s a destination-based trip, it will help you determine an idea of how far to drive each day and what areas you can potentially pass through. If it’s an experience-based trip, you’ll see how far you can travel based on your time frame, and thus discover your destination options, as well as if it’s travel-based.

This ensures you don’t have to rush and cram a lot of the return driving in on one day. You don’t want to cut it so close you risk being back late for an appointment or work. The distance map makes it easy to see what your potential final destinations can be, based on your time frame, which provides the framework for planning.

  1. Take that framework and now go deeper, based off of your theme and what you want to experience. Ask yourself these questions, and let Google or any online searching reveal the best attractions, must-dos, and unique features of each region.

Research Questions

-Based on your theme, what key experiences do you want?

-What regions are you passing through and what does each have to offer?

-What key cities are within your final destination range?

-What key cities offer experiences that fit with your theme?

-Are there any smaller cities or attractions?

-What does the surrounding area have to offer each day along your route?

This is easy if your trip is destination-based because you will simply be choosing between various routes to get to your destination and back (and bases along the way). If your trip is experience-based, then building off the last question, this will be defined as either the furthest point at which you drive before heading back, or the destination that offers the most of what you want to experience and where you'll spend most of your time.

6. Research Time—Work backwards!


Use MapQuest as a guide opened on one webpage, which allows you to put the city you're leaving from and your final destination and see the general route.

I always open MapQuest on one page, and Google on another, and have a notepad out as I plan. You can create a totally customized trip plan. If you want, it is then easy to share the trip via text or email to yourself and others.

Always try to take a different way home than the route you took heading out, if possible, by utilizing the map page showing the route (or route options).

A couple of Google searches can be all you need and this can be a very enjoyable part of the planning process. Review the previous steps and review it all after some final research.

-Your ultimate destination city (whether it is experienced-based, destination-based or travel-based)

-Your theme, what experiences you want to search for, and in which areas/cities to find them

-Your framework, with an idea of what general area you need to stop every eight hours for the evening

You can then either change that destination for the evening to another city in the surrounding area, or build on it with attractions you found.

You can then build your trip and modify it easily.

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